Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday – Analysis of A Wedding Shoot Part 6 -- Shooting The Room

Good Morning Everybody,
We had a great time in Florida and will back in Cincy by about 2 p.m. today. While in Florida, I got to play some more with the 5D's video capabilities and even did another Technique Tuesday. There is a learning curve involved and some frustrating moments along the way - like no sound, just dumb stuff that wouldn't have happened if I had been more careful.

I know Tuesday's Technique Tuesday had no sound in one channel - I'm working on that problem and do my best to resolve those issues. Also, I found that the on-camera flash seems to be disabled while in video mode - very strange. I'll try to get more info on that from my Canon rep. Anyway, I think we have the bugs worked out and I'd like to feel that video issues are mostly behind me at this time. But continue to let me know of any future problems and issues. So, that said, how about on with The Analysis Of A Wedding Shoot - Part 6...

Analysis of A Wedding Shoot Part 6 -- Shooting The Room
Once we get to the wedding reception, things are really starting to wrap up for us. We’ve been on the job for about 6 hours and we are now in the home stretch. Many times a cocktail hour reception is going on which we need to cover when we arrive at the reception venue. But, at the same time, the main ballroom is being prepared for all the guests to enter. The final preparations are made, the water is poured, the votive candles are lit, and it's just moments before the doors will open upon this beautiful setting.

My job is to capture some beautiful photographs of the room before the guests enter. The challenge is getting photographs while the hotel staff is still fussing with last-minute details of the room and checking that everything is perfect for the grand presentation. Time is ticking away and the doors need to be opening in just the next few minutes.

I quickly find the banquet captain, find out what the timeline is for the doors to be opening, and also ask how much more time the hotel staff will need to finish with their preparations. We both agree that I'll have about seven or eight minutes to get the room photographs. That's really all I need, I shoot at about 1,000,000 miles an hour while constantly ranging the optics for the room shots from super wide-angle to telephoto, and come up with a tremendous variety of images for our clients.

Let me give you the play-by-play for this series of images.

1 -- Take several wide-angle photographs of the entire room. My lens of choice for these images is my 10 to 22 mm lens on my 40D or the 12-24mm Sigma on my Canon 5D Mark II. The camera is set to anywhere from 800 or 1600 ISO. With the new higher ISO cameras on the market, my job is even easier since I NEVER use a tripod for these shots.
2 -- Be sure to cover the room with a wide-angle lens from the left side, the middle, and the right side of the room so that we have plenty of different points of view on the room. Hey, a lot of these images will find their way to the hotel too so they can use them in their promotions – with my byline, of course.

3 -- I also try to get some very low angle views of the room as well. I do this by featuring one of the centerpieces in the composition placed against maybe the ceiling of the grand ballroom. 4 -- Next, it's time to run up the steps to the balcony area of the ballroom. Once again, with the wide-angle lens in place I shoot the room from many different angles and points of view. 5 -- While up in the balcony, I'll change optics to say 24-105mm IS lens and isolate some tabletops, again, the show different aspects of the room.

6 -- Also while up in the balcony, I'll put my 8mm fisheye on the camera and take a few more photographs with this very unusual perspective. We then run back downstairs and try to get a few more fisheye shots as well.

7 -- It's at this point that I know we're about out of time. But, I've taken all of my wide-angle photographs so with the clients to start trickling into the ballroom, I'm still in good shape. It's at this point that I switch to my 50mm F1 .4 lens. I'm now on the move through the room and just do some close-up detail photographs of the tables and the items on that table like menu cards, an unique fold of the napkin, the chocolates, the centerpiece etc. And of course the wedding cake!!

8 -- In shooting the detail shots I'll sometimes use a wide-angle lens like my 10-22mm lens so I can really add some dramatics to the items on the tabletop. 9 -- That about wraps it; we've got a great series of images that I can share not just with the client but with the hotel venue as well. In total I'll shoot anywhere from 30 to 50 images of the ballroom.

10 --One of my assistants meanwhile has the responsibilty of covering the cocktail hour where we concentrate on capturing groups of family and friends, couples, the musicians.... These mainly consist of candid snaps and grip and grins, individuals smiling looking directly back into the camera.

Hey everybody that's it for today hope you enjoyed it and I'll see you again tomorrow for Business Day Thursday: "Don’t Rest On Your Laurels”. See ya’ then, -David


  1. David, Love the series and appreciate your sharing so much, the quality and worth of your blog is unrivaled. I look forward to your daily post and will be one of the first in line for your upcoming book. BTW love the "Conversations With David" hope it will be a regular part.
    Kind Regards,

  2. This is a situation where having access to some ultra-wide aspherical lenses really pays off.

  3. David, great blog, You mentioned that you share the images taken of the hall with the B&G plus the hotel venue. Do you attempted to sell images to the hotel or do you give some to them? Just how do you share them with the hotel.

  4. David,

    This is a very useful post. Thank you for taking the time in this series to explain in such detail your approach to shooting a wedding. It's great stuff!

    All the best,
    Eric Rudd

  5. A personal favorite of mine is to shoot over an individual table with a wide angle or fish eye to get all the place settings in one shot.

    I'm a little jealous of your photos... I can never make it to the reception location before those first few guests who have nothing else to do ;)